Our community has lost a man dedicated to helping us appreciate the natural beauty around us.
Dr. Dale Ireland, whose HD web camera and time lapse videos from his deck in Silverdale was a regular feature on this blog, died suddenly Wednesday in Silverdale.
Ireland was a dentist, but his love was studying the heavens.
"He had a child-like passion for the universe," said Greg Johnson, a family friend who also runs SkunkBayWeather.com. "He was a great study of it, but the look in his eyes when he captured some of the wonders of nature was infectious."
His website is full of astronomical photography -- be it nebulas, galaxies and comets -- that he took from his back yard. (Here is the blog I wrote on how he got those photos) and he and his wife spanned the globe to catch solar eclipses, including Australia, Hungary and Bolivia.
Ireland is well-known to all the Seattle-area weather forecasters and other members of the media, frequently emailing us to let us know about solar flares, meteor showers, lunar eclipses, Space Shuttle and International Space Station Flyovers and many other astronomical or meteorological tidbits.
His web camera was a staple of our TV weathercasts and he's been quoted in dozens of my blog entries (a search of his name on our site comes up with 112 entries) -- always a great source of information for me.
He'd come home from work each afternoon, head to his computer and convert the day's images from his web camera into a time lapse movie and dutifully email the file to me and others in the weather community, being sure to note anything of interest.
During the winter when snow was in the forecast, his unique use of an Ichiro bobblehead doll as a snow measuring stick quickly became a favorite feature. But all of his time lapse videos became great ways to help us visualize the complex weather patterns around the Northwest.
From watching the winds push back and forth during a Puget Sound Convergence Zone:
To learning about how wind shear works:
Or showing the awesome beauty of the floating lenticular clouds over the Olympic Mountains:
Dale was also always on top of any tricks the sun was playing. Check out the Crepuscular Rays that danced on Hood Canal:
And if you look into the middle of the screen, watch as a Sun Dog forms
And even when Dale wasn't at home, he kept his eyes on the sky. He shot this video of a Parhelic Circle when he was eating lunch in Tacoma.
Combine the rain and the clouds together, and you get brilliant rainbows:
His videos were also valuable teaching tools for the Forest Service in showing firefighters what to watch out for when wildfires burn during summer inversions. Watch what happens when the inversion suddenly lifted during a wildfire in the Olympics on Sept. 5, 2011:
And when the sun would set, his cameras captured the amazing sunsets the Northwest is famous for (and in this case, also captured a sun pillar):
Finally, it wouldn't be a catalogue of Dr. Dale's web camera without his Ichiro bobblehead-measuring snow events:
We'll certainly miss his friendly emails and dedication to helping make sure we all knew when something interesting was going on. But hopefully he knew just how much he helped keep all of us connected to the special beauty that surrounds us.